Department of English

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Pr. John Pilsner

Dr. John Pilsner

Assistant Professor of English

  • Ph.D., with Distinction, Department of Comparative Literature, The Graduate School & University Center of The City University of New York (CUNY)
  • Certificate Program in Renaissance Studies, CUNY Graduate Center
  • M.A., English, University of Toronto
  • B.A., Drama and English, Hofstra University
  • Mario Capelloni Dissertation Award, CUNY Graduate Center
  • Andrew Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities (offered)
  • Essay Prize in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies, Renaissance Society of America and CUNY Graduate Center
  • Folger Institute Grant, Shakespeare
  • Folger Library, Washington, D.C.
  • President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, Queens College
Select Publications

Areas of Specialization

  • Renaissance humanism and literature, fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, English and Continental.
  • Interdisciplinary and cross-cultural research in Neoplatonism, Christian Platonism, moral philosophy, lay piety, mysticism, rhetoric vs. dialectic, satire, and concepts of wisdom and folly.

Current Works in Progress

  • Petrarch’s Socratic Idiot: Humanist Ignorance and Spiritual Wisdom in On His Own Ignorance and That of Many Others
  • Thomas More’s Ironic Personae the the Limits of Lucian
  • The Silenus Metaphor in Erasmus’s Poetics and Hermeneutics

Recent Publications

  • Teaching a Franciscan Poetic in a Study of the Literary Voice (2015)

Select Conference Presentations and Invited Lectures

  • Teaching A Franciscan Poetic in a Study of the Literary Voice (2014)
  • The Figure of the Idiota from the Acts of the Apostles through Petrarch (2012)
  • Negative Figuration and Theology in Erasmus’ Praise of Folly and the Letter to Dorp (2011)
  • No-Place is Everywhere: The Infinite Limits of Thomas More’s Utopia (2009)
  • A Dialectical Poetic: More’s Utopia and the Discourse of Opposition (2009)
  • Erasmus, More, and Dorp: Intertextual Questions and Responses (2006)
  • Philosophers and Fools: Learned Ignorance and Socratic Method in Nicholas of Cusa, Erasmus, and Thomas More (2004)


  • The Sage and the Fool: Antithesis, Paradoxy, and Reconciliation in a Dialectical Poetics of ‘Moriasophia’ (2012)”
Department Faculty